About The Books
of Starman #9:
The following is an
excerpt from one of the chapters of the ninth Starman book. Enjoy!
When we reached a spot opposite the large gate, I sauntered up to the guardhouse. Zip and Mark followed close behind, looking a trifle uncomfortable, maybe even embarrassed. There was no one in evidence.
“Hey!” I yelled, leaning through the top half of the dutch door and knocking on the shelf.
A decidedly unfriendly-looking man came out of a back room, wiping his mouth with a napkin. He was even bigger than Mark and outweighed him by maybe fifty pounds. He was built solidly of muscle and sinew, and wore a sidearm of some kind in a holster. I remember thinking that this Jemno Bartrin knew how to pick his guards.
“Whadda you hayseeds want?” he sneered at me.
I backed off as if I’d been intimidated. “Sorry to disturb you at your supper, sir. My brothers and me, here, well, we’ve just moved in down to the town and went for a walk, like, this evening.” I smoothed my way back up where I’d been before. “An’ we were walking by the field here, and we got kinda curious. Mind if we go out there and take a closer look at the spaceships ya got out there?”
The goon flushed, his mouth tightened up as though he’d just gotten a good suck on a freshly-picked not-quite-ripe lemon, he slammed his open palms loudly down on the counter, and he leaned through the opening with his face about six inches from mine.
“You hicks interrupt me at my dinner and ask if you can stroll about inside the area I’m guarding!?” he roared. Onion breath blew onto me with something like gale force. “Why, are you stupid? Did you get kicked in the head by a horse, you pea-brained hay-flinger? If it were ‘okay’ for brainless louts to totter about the field an’ gawk at our ships, d’ya think we’d have a fence up? Have you been—”
With that I figured I’d had enough and I reached out and jerked both his wrists toward me. His hands flew off the counter and his eyes and mouth opened up into three circles as his head fell to the board. He bit off his last word hard.
Mark grabbed one flailing hand and I grabbed the other, and we both yanked him through the door and flung him out so that he went sprawling facedown in the dirt. Without taking the time to see whether the door were locked or not, I vaulted through the opening into the guardroom to see if there were anyone else inside.
There was. Another mountain of a man had just leaped up from a small dining table and was heading for some kind of console where there was communication equipment and a large red button. As he reached for the button, I remember expressing thanks that they had painted it so bright. Made it easier for me to know what to keep him away from.
One blow to his floating ribs made him think of something other than that red button. After that, he wasn’t too much of a challenge. He was down for the night and I was turning back to open the door for Zip and Mark, when I heard a loud noise, a pop with some force behind it. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was an ominous kind of sound. I suddenly felt cold all over. I ran to the door and the big fellow was flat on his back, out cold. Mark was standing over him with a determined look on his face and his right hand still curled up in a tight fist. I can still remember the whiteness of his knuckles. Zip was holding his left arm with a look of complete astonishment across his features.
I threw the door open and Zip looked up at me. “He shot me,” he said. “With his pistol.” He walked over to where the man had dropped his pistol and picked it up. He held it to his nose. “Acrid smell,” he said. His nostrils curled up.
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